If you live in Australia you have almost certainly seen photos of the Pinnacles on Australian calendars and on posters advertising Western Australia (WA). These most unusual formations were almost unknown until about 1960; today we know that they were formed long ago and by shellfish under the sea, but beyond that, they still mystify scientists and attract hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.
We were encouraged to make some time to visit the Pinnacles during the month we spent in WA this year, and we were not disappointed. We stayed in comfortable accommodation in Jurien Bay, some 30 km further north, but well located near the amazingly diverse collection of wildflowers in the Lesueur National Park, another 20 km further north.
In this post I want to highlight the Pinnacles, thousands of limestone peaks, many about 2 m high but ranging from knee-high to 5 metres and covering several square kilometres, near the coast 200 km north of Perth in WA. Wikipedia’s page on the Pinnacles is a good source of information about this unusual natural formation.
Several things especially impressed us –
- We were able to see the Pinnacles at daybreak on a clear morning, as well as on the previous evening at sunset but in overcast conditions. My photos clearly show why it is advisable to try to see this site when the light contrast is strongest.
- The Visitors Centre (completed in 2008) is modest but excellent, with an informative interpretative room and a well-stocked shop.
- Although the area’s wildlife is largely nocturnal, driving in at daybreak we had to be careful of both emus and kangaroos by the roadside and in the nearby bush of the surrounding Nambung National Park, and during our few hours among the Pinnacles we were captivated by a couple of galahs, just some of the many birds who have made their home in the limestone columns.
- It was heartening for Helen and me to read the very open admission that scientists could only put forward three possible theories (mentioned on the Wikipedia page) about how the Pinnacles were formed. So often scientists and the media present a triumphalist picture of science, as if we can know and understand everything in the amazing world and universe around us.
- The Indian Ocean Drive also impressed us, a $95 m 65 km high standard road linking the coastal road from Perth north to Lancelin with the road from Cervantes near the Pinnacles north to Geraldton. Since 2010 WA has an excellent tourist road from the capital and following the coast all the way north to Shark Bay, making access to many popular towns and sights much easier. And despite WA’s mineral wealth, I understand considerable national funds were used in its construction.
A cautionary note: road users must be on the look-out for wildlife: we narrowly escaped an encounter with a large emu and saw a lot of “roadkill”.